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Scott Mills: Q&A

Posted: Monday, February 23, 2004
Posted By: Tim O'Shea

Scott Mills is a creator that always throws me. When reading the first couple of issues from his ongoing anthology series, Superheroes and Seamonsters (SLG Publishing), I didn’t know what to expect when flipping from page to page. I like feeling uneasy when I read his work, and I can’t quite tell you why, which is a good thing, I think. Here’s some background (thanks to the fine folks at Top Shelf, one of Mills’ publishers) before swimming into the SBC Q&A waters with him:

“Scott Mills first gained notoriety in 1998 for his Xeric Award-winning comic book Cells. He has since taken the comics world by storm with his countless short stories, all of which have displayed his exceptional talent of mixing lovable characters with an undeniable sense of humanity. With Big Clay Pot, his first full-length work, Trenches, and now The Masterplan, Mills is poised to establish himself as a unique voice in contemporary cartooning. Ad House Books recently published his semi-autobiographical graphic novel My Own Little Empire.”

Tim O’Shea: How long was Superheroes and Seamonsters percolating in your head or on paper before you pitched it to SLG?

Scott Mills: Years. In fact, most of the material in the first three issues was completed over a year ago. The 4th issue on forward is brand new. Having my own anthology series has been my lifelong dream.

TO: Is it my imagination, or are you experimenting with different art styles, as with Too Big for Words in issue 1?

SM: Definitely. I gotta mix it up.

TO: Who in comics makes you laugh and makes you think: "I wish I could be that funny."

SM: Sam Henderson, Matt Feazell, Evan Dorkin … their work is hilarious, and they really know how to deliver a punchline.

TO: Did you seriously almost call the book Pimps & Superheroes? If not, were there any other serious alternatives for the name?

SM: I just thought the title had a nice ring to it. Seamonsters is a cool word, and the name of my favorite album by my favorite band The Wedding Present. I like other words too, but most of them are dirty.

TO: You're not afraid to do text intensive pages and I mean intensive. Do you ever look back at a page and decide that maybe you overdid it a bit? Or is going overboard with the text half the fun for you on a page like that?

SM: Which page? Gosh, I don't know. Yeah, for some of the pieces I wanted the composition to be utterly lopsided with text.

TO: Have TCJ's Milo George or Tom Spurgeon contacted you about their merged name being put to a fake letter in issue 2? (Please note this Q&A was conducted before Mr. George’s departure from TCJ.)

SM: No, and they probably won't. I don't think anyone affiliated with The Comics Journal or Fantagraphics reads anything that isn't published by Fantagraphics or D&Q. Hopefully, they'll just leave me alone; at least until I can find my stride.

TO: Do you fear alienating the Demi Moore/Patrick Swayze comic book reading fan base by claiming that Ghost is a worse film than Sylvester Stallone's ode to arm wrestling, Over the Top? (as you did in the opening page of S&S issue 2)?

SM: Did I say that? I think The Hills Have Eyes 2 is worse than both of 'em.

TO: Will readers be able to see more of that great (Marvel's) Watcher satire, The Looker (from S&S)? I myself see a lot of What If potential…

SM: I doubt it. There's not much more to say about him. Besides, I'm not thrilled with the Looker piece all that much. It seems a little rushed, and the text is a bit cramped in places.

TO: While you mock the superhero genre, am I right that on a certain level you also have an appreciation for this portion of the mainstream?

SM: I admit it. I love superheroes. Most superhero comics suck, but there's some good stuff out there. Yeah, as brutal as I am with some of the parody, I think it's all in good fun.

TO: Could you ever envision doing a direct satire of DC or Marvel characters for either company, much in the spirit of Fred Hembeck or more recently Peter Bagge?

SM: How much are they paying?

TO: What inspired the mock A Preview of Next Issue where you had story art, but boilerplate text "(Something will be said here.)" in the word balloons?

SM: I don't get out much.

TO: What's on the horizon, creatively and comically, in the upcoming Seamonsters & Superheroes issues?

SM: Starting with the fourth issue, things get really crazy. We'll start to see that superhero parody is just a starting point for what the series is all about. There'll still be lots of parody and sick humor, but there'll be more serious stories too. More prose in the future, ala Binary Coda from issue 2.

Issue 5 is a self-contained 32-page mini-graphic novel called Far Cry. It's a slice of life story about five people and their intersecting sex lives. It's filthy, but it's also quite beautiful and affecting. I'm very happy with how this story is turning out.

Issue 6 is a flip-book, with one long superhero story and one long seamonster story on either side of the comic.

Starting with issue 7 I'll be serializing three longer stories. The Silent Bell, which is a sort-of sequel to Big Clay Pot; End of the Line, a sort-of sequel or companion piece to The Masterplan; and Zombie Kamikaze, an action-horror story.

There'll still be lots of superhero parody one-pagers and bizarre text pieces here and there. The range of content in the series will just expand. I'm just getting warmed up.


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